All writing follows the same basic steps regardless of whether you are writing for the Army or writing a research paper. The following steps will help you develop a well-thought out and well-written product.
STEP 1: RESEARCH. Research is the gathering of ideas and information. This is the step where you answer the “who, when, where, what, and how of the issue”. Since we gather information in different ways, you must find the system which best suits you and your task. This means that as you gather ideas, you must keep in mind both your purpose and your audience. Gather as many ideas as you can. Use all possible sources. It is easier to throw out ideas that you don’t need than it is to go back and do more research. Once you have the ideas you need, you will continue to the planning stage.
- Collect as much information as possible about the subject.
- Record the information you collect about the subject.
- Sources of information include
- The library.
- People who are subject matter experts.
- Regulations, journals, etc.
- Make detailed notes.
- Determine your audience.
- Organize your notes into a system that works for you. (color code or number, etc.)
- Clarify the purpose of your writing.
- Produce a trial controlling
STEP 2: PLAN. The planning step is where you take all the information you’ve gathered and put it into a logical order. Start by placing your ideas into groups. Then order your groups in the way that best supports your task. The product that results is the outline. From this ordering, develop a controlling idea. A controlling idea is a single declarative sentence which presents both your topic and your position about that topic. An example of a controlling idea is presented below:
This year’s majors
are better prepared than last year’s.
Once you have developed the controlling idea, add your supporting paragraphs. What you have is a rough plan or outline. Now you’re ready to write your first draft.
- Develop your outline
- Develop your controlling idea.
- Develop the major parts/ideas.
- Develop minor parts/ideas.
- Write out an introduction
- Write a draft conclusion
- Determine the format
STEP 3. DEVELOP A DRAFT. The draft is the bridge between your idea and the expression of it. Write your draft quickly and concentrate only on getting your ideas down on paper. Don’t worry about punctuation and spelling. Use your outline to develop your draft. State your controlling idea (the bottom line) early and follow the order you’ve already developed. When you have the ideas down and you’re satisfied with the sequence, you need to put the product into the correct Army writing format. This may result in your rewriting sections of your draft so that it fits the appropriate Army format. After you complete the formatting of your draft, put it aside. It is a good idea to get away from the paper for a while before you start to revise.
- Use your outline to write your first draft
- Put the draft into the correct Army writing format. (You may have to rewrite sections to fit the format.)
- Put the paper aside before you begin the revision.
STEP 4. REVISE THE DRAFT. Revising is looking at the material through the eyes of your audience. Read the paper as if you have never seen it before. Find where you need to put in transitions; look for places that need more evidence. This will help you decide if you need to add enclosures or add information depending on the type of written product you are developing. You now revise your draft making the changes you’ve noted
- Make sure that your material is correct and stated accurately.
- Make sure that your paper can be easily understood in a “single rapid reading” and is written in the Army style. (see additional segments in your readings handouts for style and correctness guidance.)
- Make sure that the paper follows the correct format.
STEP 5. PROOF. Now you are ready to proof your draft. At this point concentrate on the format, grammar, mechanics, and usage. You may want to have someone else read it. Sometimes others can find errors you can’t because you are too close to the product. When you finish, write the final version, making the corrections. Your product is now complete.
- Make corrections.
- Ask another person to proof-read it.
- Write the final version.